Aerial spraying program set to get underway

MidCoast Council and National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS) are working together to prepare for an annual bitou bush aerial spraying program, which is set to kick off on Monday 22 May and run through to Monday, July 31, weather permitting.

Bitou bush (or Chrysanthemoides monilifera) is native to South Africa, but was widely planted in Australia in the 1950s/60s to stabilise mined sand dunes. However, in 1999 it was listed as a threatening plant species and is now a Weed of National Significance, infesting about 80% of the NSW coastline (more than 900km).

“The management of bitou bush aims to protect threatened plant species and endangered ecological communities that occur along the coastal strip,” MidCoast Council’s Strategic Weeds Biosecurity Officer, Terry Inkson explained.

“The aerial spraying of herbicides from helicopters is important as it allows for the treatment of steep or inaccessible sections of the coast, including remote stretches of beaches and headlands.”

The program will be carried out following recommendations contained in the ‘Best Practice Guidelines for Aerial Spraying of Bitou Bush in New South Wales’ published by the Department of Environment and Conservation.

Several areas along the coastal strip within the MidCoast region will be treated, from Crowdy Head in the north to Yacaaba Headland in the south. 

With this, some adjacent camping areas, carparks and roads will be subject to short term temporary closures, including the Lakes Way from Green Point to Tiona.

This year, NPWS will also be re-treating Corrie Island Nature Reserve near Tea Gardens which will mean short delays to boat access around the island will occur while the helicopter is operational.

Locals planning to utilise affected areas are asked to adhere to closure signs and directions from agency staff.

Previous efforts over the past decade have seen a huge reduction of mature bitou bush in managed areas, however these ongoing treatments are necessary to control re-emerging juvenile plants.

For more information, contact MidCoast Council on 6591 7222 or NPWS on 6591 0300.